Two Conflicting Limit Texas Holdem Strategies
As I was talking to a good friend of mine, the subject of limit Texas holdem strategy came up and we found that, even though we are both good players, we have two very different styles when we sit down in a new game. This is one of the things that make poker such a fascinating and fun game. Two players who can both get good results at the same game using different strategies. The deeper meaning to this, and what I hope you get out of this article, is that there is very seldom only one right way to do anything at the poker table.
When my friend sits at a new table, and by a new table I mean one with players who don't know how he plays, he will play many hands and play them very aggressively. He will bluff until he is caught at least once, and generally be loud and friendly while doing it. His goal is to convince everyone at the table that he is a maniac, playing poor hands and losing in a big way. At times he will even convince a few of the other players that he doesn't exactly know what he is doing.
After he has played this way long enough to convince his competition, usually less than thirty minutes, he will maintain the same friendly and loud attitude but change his game to a very tight, solid and aggressive style and will get paid off many times over on his good hands. He has already convinced the entire table that he is willing to play a big pot with inferior cards so they have no reason to believe him when he has a great hand. The most amazing thing is that most of the opposition will never realize that he has changed his game because he isn't acing any differently than before. Only the best players, who are also paying attention, will figure out the deception and adjust their game.
While I have used the above strategy a few times, my normal strategy is completely different. When I sit at a new table, I usually play extremely tight early. I will only enter the pot with very strong hands, and spend most of my time folding. The image I am trying to portray is one of a rock, which will only be in the pot with a great chance to win. This is helped greatly at times when a few players notice and make a comment about it. As the playing session goes on I will loosen up my play a little and my earlier play will often allow me to win a few uncontested pots in big situations. The other upside of this style is that if I hit a good run of cards early, I can get ahead early and remain very tight for even longer, sometimes as long as two hours, before loosening up.
Our strategies are completely opposite of each other, yet an argument can be made for either one as being best. I would argue that neither one is best, but they are both good at times. What you need with both are opponents who are paying attention. This is much more important with my strategy, as it is hard to miss a loud, happy opponent even when you aren't paying attention. So choose your strategy, or better yet, try out both of the above and find the one that works best for you.
Before you go, there is one more important point you need to understand. Both of the above strategies require solid playing ability and the ability to adapt quickly. Neither strategy will help in the long run if you aren't a good player also.